On September 7, 2017, the Haskayne School of Business announced that Shahauna Siddiqui, MBA’01, is this year’s recipient of the Management Alumni Excellence (MAX) Award – the business school’s top alumni award. In its 17th year, the award was presented as part of the University of Calgary Alumni Association’s annual Arch Awards, which recognize alumni who have improved their profession or community through commitment, leadership and driving positive change close to home and around the globe. The awards were presented at a gala ceremony on September 22, kicking off the university’s annual Alumni Weekend celebration.
“The Arch Awards are especially meaningful because they are presented by alumni to alumni, and the annual event is an opportunity for the entire University of Calgary community to celebrate our graduates and their accomplishments,” says Michael Sclafani, associate vice president of alumni engagement. “As leaders in their community and their profession, these incredible individuals embody many of the University of Calgary’s values and aspirations and serve as tremendous role models to our current and future students.”
As this year’s MAX Award winner, Siddiqui was humbled. “I was a little shocked and surprised,” she says of winning the award. “It wasn’t something I expected, in fact I had no idea I was nominated. It’s a little overwhelming. It’s a big award and there are big alumni who have won it in the past, so you never put yourself in the same category.”
Siddiqui co-founded BluEra – an executive search firm – in 2008, with a different approach to searching. For example, they used videos in place of paper documents to pitch clients’ brands, and they involved everybody within BluEra – which didn’t use job titles – in building the company’s strategy and vision. The firm was a success and eventually acquired by DHR International (a global executive search firm) in 2016.
Ironically, Siddiqui completed an enterprise MBA at the faculty of management (as the school was then called) with no intention of actually becoming an entrepreneur. “I thought I was going to do investment banking,” she recalls. “It wasn’t until Dr. Bob [Schulz] conveniently pointed out that I should be in HR instead of finance. He was totally right.” After graduation she worked at the business school, trying to improve the school’s record in finding job placements for MBA students.
Despite leaving the university to go into recruiting, she has remained an active volunteer at Haskayne. She is on the Management Advisory Council and is very involved with the Distinguished Business Leader Award. “It’s for the students,” she says of why she gives back. “They do amazing things and are amazing people who come through the university. They come out into the world and contribute hugely. It’s great to see other people succeed. They’re so bright and capable and energetic and positive.”
Other distinguished University of Calgary alumni honoured at the 2017 Arch Awards include Olympic gold medallist Hayley Wickenheiser, BKin’13, MSc’16, who received the Distinguished Alumna Award, and Andrew Mosker, MA’12, the head of the National Music Centre, who received an Alumni Achievement Award.